Friday, April 25, 2014

Why GMA Is Bad For Your Brain

Good Morning America recently welcomed the addition of Michael Strahan to its morning newscast.  This came after a flurry of change as underrated Sam Champion left for the Weather Channel.  He was replaced by bubbly Ginger Zee who was making the move from weekend weather girl.  Overrated Josh Elliot split for a gig talking sports for NBC.  And apparently left in such a manner the ABC news president refused him the opportunity to say goodbye to his fans.  He was replaced by Amy Robach.  And then for what seems to be no reason they announced the promotion of Lara Spencer to co-anchor. 

Strahans first day on the job opens with a camera shot of a ridiculously crowded table of talking heads.  So how do they start the show?  By kicking the first 4 stories to 4 additional talking heads deemed not worthy of  seat at the grown ups table.  Meaning for this broadcast they had 10 people give us 4 news stories.  Hmmmm (checking my math)… that’s .4 stories per head.  That’s fucking stupid and kind of hard to watch.  Now there are people with ratings and market research who will tell me I’m wrong and while they may be right, I’m definitely not wrong.

I am aware that GMA is far from hard hitting news.  In fact it’s a good gauge for when something that was once cool no longer is simply by appearing on their show.  (Viral videos.  Gene Simmons.)  But it is still classified as news.  Why does the American public need to be distracted to enjoy news?  Why would we ever feel the need to tweet what we’re watching?  Why do we think the news is better when it’s starts with dialogue like this.

George:  Good morning America.  I’m George Stephanopoulos.  And this is Robin Robinson.  Good morning Robin.

Robin:  Good morning George and good morning America.  We’re pleased to welcome Michael Strahan to our panel of teleprompter readers.  Good Morning Michael.

Strahan:  Good morning Robin.  Good morning George.  Good morning America.  I’m happy to join the show.

George:  Fucking great to have ya!  For our first story.  We have more unsubstantiated speculation regarding that plane that crashed into the ocean somewhere.  For that we’re gonna kick it to Michelle Franzen who has no actual news to report.

Franzen:  Good morning George.  Good morning Robing.  Good Morning Michael.  Good morning America. 


Lets dissect. 

When Sam Champion left the logical replacement was Ginger Zee.  She had been working the weekend weather for sometime is perfectly fine to look at and seems capable of putting together complete sentences.  Never mind that the weather is the biggest waste of time on any news channel the fact is people wanna see it so someone’s gotta do it.  Might as well be her. 

Then Josh Elliot is suddenly gone.  Off to add his specific brand of unoffensive opinion in an all sports format for NBC Sports.  The nerve.  This was apparently out of nowhere as he was not given the heroes send off that Sam Champion received.  He was replaced by the almost gender neutral Amy Robach.  No longer would she be one of people stories were kicked to.  She gets a seat at the big table. 

Now this move had a ripple effect.  Longtime weekend story teller Ron Claibourne who is also… black, had to be miffed that someone with less seniority and less skin pigment be chosen for the job he’s been doing on the weekends for years.  My suspicions on this were enhanced when the weekend edition of GMA had Dan Harris speaking of ole Ron as if her were the pope (Did you know Josh Elliot met the pope?) as they lead into a story about his magnanimous contribution to underprivileged youth in his home town.  What did Pope Ron do for these ne’r do well rapscallions to help put them on the straight and narrow?  He showed them how to do his job.  That’s right.  You too can read words on a screen.  Stay in school kids.

The next ripple came in the wake of Lara Spencer’s new title.  Now she has always given her job of covering celebrities too much importance, but why call her a co anchor?  But was there really a need for a title bump?  Friday of this tumultuous week had Robin out and instead of sliding newly anointed co-anchor Lara into her chair, they kept her off to the side and had Amy Robach sit in the spot typically reserved for Robin.  In what seemed like an effort to placate Lara she was given one of the shows first “serious” stories.

And why bring in Strahan?  I think after all the changes the producers realized something.  There’s only one man left on the show.  It’s unfortunate that so many female candidates were so qualified to replace outgoing cast members. “We need more penis!” shouts one the producers.  “Get me Strahan.  He’s got a penis!”    

Outside of George and Amy, everyone on the show has a hard time not coming off phony or self important.  Ginger wants the world to know she is not just a pretty face former cheerleader.  She’s an enthusiast of extreme weather.  Or more aptly, Xtreme weather.  Lara is the most logical choice to replace Josh in the arena of putting one’s self into a story.  And anytime some team wins a championship of some sort it seems they are from Robins home town.                 

Why does any of this matter?  Well it largely doesn’t.  But it does.  They have promo clips of cast members sneaking up on unsuspecting fans.  Fans?  Of a talking head?  They only thing that should matter for TV news on camera talent is to be easy to look at and the ability to form sentences while speaking clearly.  It is an extremely unimportant job and the idea that there are actual human brains that consider themselves fans in nauseating.  And look.  Just because there job is meaningless doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be compensated.  And it doesn’t mean anyone could do it.  (Almost anyone.) But aren't we passed the idea that being on TV is important? 

If ESPN decides they need 18 former jocks sitting on stools in a row to properly cover the Super Bowl, while just as ridiculous, it matters less as there is no pretense of importance.  While GMA isn’t hard hitting investigative journalism they do mix in a lot of serious news that affects the lives of Americans.  And to treat it like a gong show?  Why do we care how many people tell us the news?  Can’t the person anchoring the show also do the stories?  Would fewer people watch? 

Alas GMA is just a microcosm of how bad it’s gotten.  We need a hashtag superimposed in the lower corner of the screen so we can live tweet what we think about something we read on the news scrawl scrolling across the bottom of the screen while we digest live coverage of flooding in Alabama. 

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